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Most people know the gym is the place to be to build muscle all over your body. But what are some gym machines specifically for bigger bicep muscles?
Biceps are a popular muscle group because they have a big impact on how your arms look.
By doing curls with small variations you can change what part of the bicep muscles you focus on.
You can definitely also build bigger biceps with free weights like dumbbells, kettlebells, a barbell, or even resistance bands.
Even so, these gym machines offer certain benefits like making sure your biceps do the work instead of cheating by using your body to lift the free weights.
Machines also generally have a lower injury risk.
1. Bicep curl machine
The way you engage and train your bicep muscles is by moving your stretched arm to a folded position against resistance. This movement will be similar for all of these machines but there are some differences that influence the results of your bicep training.
A bicep curl machine is a gym machine where your upper arms can move freely during the bicep curl. This can make it more challenging to only use your bicep for the exercise.
One advantage a regular bicep curl machine can have is an inclined seat. In this position your upper arms are behind your body. This allows you to train the long head, the outer part, of your bicep muscles more compared to a regular upright bicep curl.
Bicep curl machines also come in two certain categories. One category allows your arms to curl their own weights separately. This allows you to avoid muscle imbalance. When using two hands for one weight one of your two arms sometimes curls more weight.
If there are only two-handed bicep curl machines available you can also just half the weight and use one arm and repeat the same number of repetitions with your other arm.
Lastly, you can hold the weight you will curl with your biceps with a wider grip or closer grip. Gripping the handle wider will engage the inner part of your bicep muscles more, gripping the handle with a closer grip will engage the outer part of the bicep muscles more.
2. Preacher curl machine
The preacher curl is similar to a regular bicep curl but your upper arms rest on a slanted bench.
This makes it harder to use any body parts besides your biceps to help with lifting the weights.
In turn, this bicep isolation can lead to faster and more muscle gain.
The preacher curl machine is this exercise but in machine form so that the weight follows a fixed trajectory.
Similar to the regular bicep curl machine you have models where your arms can lift separate weights and models where both arms curl a single weight. Depending on your situation and training goals you may prefer one or the other.
Also similar to the regular bicep curl machine you can change how wide you grip the weight to focus on different parts of the bicep muscle.
Alternatives with a wider grip will engage the inner part of your bicep muscles more, a narrower grip will engage the outer part of your bicep muscles more.
3. Cable machine
The cable machine is a type of gym machine where a steel frame holds weights and pulleys. Thanks to the cable going through these pulleys and attached to these weights you can do many types of strength training exercises for a wide variety of muscles.
You can also do different types of bicep curls with the cable machine. One example is the hammer curl.
Set the pulley at a low setting and attach a single or double rope handle to the cable machine.
Grab the handle and stand up straight right next to the cable machine with your face toward it.
Your arm starts stretched and pointing down. Your hand holds the rope in a neutral grip, with your hand palm pointing sideways and inward. Next, slowly fold your arm at the elbow as far as you can. Keep your upper arm in the same position throughout the exercise.
Lastly, lower your hand back into starting position in a controlled motion.
By changing your grip compared to the regular curl you target your brachialis muscle more. This muscle helps your arms achieve more power and look bigger. If you want to target this muscle even more you can do bicep curls with an overhanded grip.
Overhanded grip bicep curls can be done with a straight or EZ bar handle attachment on the cable machine but also on most of the other gym machines for bicep muscles.
4. Smith machine
The smith machine looks similar to a squat rack but there are a few differences which make the smith machine more of a machine.
First of all, the barbell is attached to a rail system. This makes it so it can only move up or down alongside these rails and not forward or backward.
Secondly, it has a system where you can rack the barbell at any height. This can be helpful for individuals who lift without a spotter.
The main bicep exercise to do with the smith machine is the drag curl. This is a type of bicep curl where you make the weight go up in a straight line. This makes your upper arms go behind your body which engages the long head, the outer part, of your bicep muscles more compared to the regular curl.
Since the bar of the smith machine can only go up or down the drag curl is the ideal bicep exercise for this gym machine.
5. Assisted chin-up machine
The last option is basically a pull-up bar where you can sit on a platform with counterweights. This setup makes it easier compared to regular chin-ups or pull-ups.
Chin-ups are similar to pull-ups but you grip the bar with your hand palms toward your body. By doing pull-ups, with the different bar grip called chin-ups, this way you engage your bicep muscles more.
If you are more experienced with resistance training you likely want to do chin-ups on a regular pull-up bar without the assistance of counterweights.
A regular pull-up bar is less of a “gym machine”, that is why this option is mainly the assisted version.
One difference between chin-ups and most of the other bicep exercises is that you use other muscles more.
This exercise is less strictly focused on the bicep muscles alone. Depending on your training goals this can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.